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Archive for March, 2011

Hockey, Sports, and Non-Sense: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things….

March 31, 2011 4 comments

Ok, first some shameless self-promotion…. I’ve been published! Like, in a real newspaper! “The View” in Lake Country will be printing my stuff every two weeks, both in ink and online. Here’s a link to the first one. If you live in the Winfield/Lake Country area, be sure to pick up a copy and have a gander. Check out their website too, and follow them on Twitter.

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Ok, some hockey…..

Wish as you might, you're no Gretzky's.

As much as I hate the Vancouver Canucks, I do have to be objective from time to time, and give them their due. They’ve had an unreal season. The Sedin’s are running things. Can you imagine how many points Daniel would have had last season, had he not gotten hurt? Nearly comparable to what Sid Crosby might have ended up with minus his concussion this season. That ‘C’ might even have ended up on his sweater, rather than Henrik’s. Well, enjoy your President’s Trophy win. And remember, that award is for REGULAR SEASON accomplishments. If you’d forgotten that the playoffs are a whole other world, I’m sure a first round meeting with the Blackhawks will jog their memories pretty quick.  For the past 2 seasons, the President’s Trophy winner has lost in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs (Bruins, Captials), and it has been a curse to many other winners too.  Vancouver residents, have you purchased your 2011 riot protection gear yet?

Also, Alex Burrows leads the NHL in all-time most “what, no call?” looks at referees.

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Speaking of Crosby…this is out of line, but it’d be funny if his returning to the NHL now because Mario Lemieux told him if he didn’t play again, he’d have to move out of his house and get a real job. Luckily for Sid, he’s been out of Mario’s for a while now. Supposedly.

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"Say you're sorry, Mark!"

I don’t get why a respected veteran like Mark Recchi would say something stupid like a guy with a fractured vertebrae was embellishing. He said it was to take some heat off of Zdeno Chara after the Pacioretty incident, but I mean come on man, that’s pretty low. Those who argue his “veteran savvy” in diffusing a volatile situation can’t possibly compare what Recchi said to Gretzky showing up at Marty McSorley’s trial and drawing the media to the front of the building while Marty made a slick escape out the back. This is more like Chara did something regrettable, so Recchi went all topper, and said something stupider than Zdeno actually performed.  Just seems unnecessary, unclassy, and disrespectful, especially coming from a 2-time Stanley Cup champ, multi-time all-star, and future hall-of-famer.  Whatever. The Bruins slaughtered the Habs in the rematch, and basically just pwn them all around now.

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TSN’s Oilers documentary, “Oil Change” seems like it was named with wishful thinking. They’re still awful, just like last year. What is it exactly, that changed? I’d still like to see more of this and HBO 24/7’ish NHL programming next season; and as I’ve mentioned before, it’d be unreal to shoot a show like this in the Cup finals.

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Sports Shorts….

With the baseball season underway, go ahead and try to justify why MLB teams need to play 162 games a season. No really, go ahead, I dare you. Can’t do it? Shocking.

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I loved this little quip from President Obama on the NFL labor dispute, especially the little smirk at the end: http://youtu.be/-x9NDSxGV90  Figure it out NFL.  Or your fans may be forced to endure a “New NFL“, too.

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Is it just me, or does Andy Roddick seem like he’s trying WAAAY too hard to be the John McEnroe of this generation of tennis, verbally? I guess pro sports are entertainment after all; I’m sure sports not included in the “big 4” need to try a little harder to compete for viewership and advertising/merchandise sales.

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Annnnnd, some non-sense……

I’ve purchased 3 Tim Hortons’ Roll-Up The Rim To Win Cups, and had one winner (coffee), leaving me with a .333 winning percentage. Could be better. But then again, it could be worse, and I could be addicted to coffee.

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If you can’t pay your debt to the mafia, and they break your legs, or whatever, does that clear your debt, or do you still owe? Do they keep breaking more things until your cough up the cheddar, or does the bodily harm cover it?

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If we all collectively start ignoring Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, & Justin Bieber, will they all go away and disappear from conversation?

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Piers Morgan is the worst interviewer on TV. And of all-time. Someone make him go away. Who thought he’d actually work out as a follow-up to Larry King?

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Scream 4? Come on….seriously? They actually thought it was a good idea to make another one of those?  The Arquette split must’ve been more expensive than either David or Courtney realized it would be.

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Instead of going on detox diets, why don’t people just not-tox in the first place? Wouldn’t that save a lot of time, pain, and money?

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Is it just me, or do most minimum wage jobs require a lot more actual, physical work than most high paying jobs?

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Whomever ended up with 555-5555 as their phone number must regret accepting those digits.

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The band Rush, to me, is as rap music is to my dad: Bothersome noise. Turn that crap off!

 

Hockey Talkie: Cooke, Chara, Kovalev, Heritage Classic, and Everything In Between.

March 23, 2011 10 comments

 

I love love LOVE Matt Cooke’s regular season/1st round playoff suspension. Faaaaaaaar overdue. The guy did not deserve as many chances as he got to clean up his act. Only thing better would have been if it were for all playoffs, or more.  I don’t care how good of a guy HBO’s 24/7 series made him seem like, and how much his teammates stick up for him, guys who play like that need to be removed from the game.  Curious that the Mario Lemieux factor finally wrangled an apology out of him too. 

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I can’t help but think Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty was locationally circumstancial. Anyone who’s had their ribcage rattled off Sparrow Gardens’ mid-bench wood pillars knows what I mean (for those who don’t know, that was the now-demolished wartime built airplane hangar/converted home-rink of the Briercrest Clippers, the college team I played for). As absolutely terrible as the result was, the hit would’ve turned out ok anywhere in the rink there was glass, and it seems a little out of character for Chara to go out of his way to hurt a guy like that. I could be wrong. Maybe there’s more to the story that the camera didn’t catch; some stick work, or something that set him off. Good for the NHL in beefing up the stanchion padding in rinks, but do we really need that little media area anyways? I get the ongoing American media sell of hockey and every nook and cranny of the game to increase viewership, but that little hut that houses reporters to call color-commentary and jump on the team benches mid-game to bother coaches for questions doesn’t seem necessary. Not to say that the Euro’s are doing it right, but some of their rinks benches are completely open, and don’t even have a divisible separation point between both teams, besides a huge gap of space. But then again, both teams walk out to the ice side by side, like they’re not about to go out on the ice and try to kill each other, so take that analogy with a grain of salt.

Good call on the no suspension for Chara though, much to the chagrin of Air Canada, who threatened to pull its sponsorship of the NHL out if the league didn’t make its product safer. I respect the move, but it sure would’ve held more water if the 6 Canadian and 5 American based NHL teams spend between $2.5 – 3.5million per season each on Air Canada  flights (via HNIC’s Jeff Marek on Twitter), and if Air Canada wasn’t such a terrible airline.

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So I’ve entered the 1st round of playoffs in the Bourne’s Blog fantasy hockey league. This year marks the first year I’ve put money on the line, and the first year I won the 1st overall pick selection. I selected Alexander Ovechkin, on the basis that I thought he would be awesome yet again. Instead of awesome, I got above-average. And now, when I need him the most, Ovechkin has decided to take 7-10 days off, while each round lasts one week. FML.

Speaking of infuriating Russians, a lesser man would’ve taken the hint he wasn’t wanted, retired, and headed back to Russia after being traded for a conditional 7th round pick. Not Alexi Kovalev. A “conditional” pick seems like the worst one to get in a draft, and pretty well the absolute minimum of acceptability when it comes to collateral in a deal. Doesn’t conditional just mean that the team who’s offered the pick will make sure you get the worst choice possible in that round?

Penguins: “Our conditions… just make sure your pick isn’t taller than 5’5”, he can’t weight more than 165 lbs, and make sure he’s got no track record of doing or winning anything significant or noteworthy in his hockey career. Stick within those parameters and we’ve got a deal.”

Senators: “… that sounds fair.”

Both, under their breath: “ ………suckers!!”

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Vincent Lecavalier did to PK Subban what Mike Richards wouldn’t, and would only talk about someone doing if he kept playing the way he does:  I don’t get what Vinny was so mad about; should Subban have just let him stand in front of his goalie, or maybe politely asked him to move? Maybe he was just mad that a rookie defenceman has played more games, has more assists, and gets more minutes per game and shifts per game than him. Why do the league’s veteran players get so angry with young, quick, talented players who celebrate their goals, and play a highly physical and exciting to watch style of hockey? Surely a Cup champ and seasoned veteran can’t feel threatened by the presence of this new brand of player, can he? Subban sure seems to make a lot of other players mad for fairly perplexing reasons.

Speaking of rookies, Taylor Hall’s first NHL fight turned out pretty well worst-case scenario for him, with that resulting ankle injury. He picked up the Gordie Howe hat-trick though, so there’s that at least for him. That stat puts him in some elite company, and places him only 16 more off the lead set by Brendan Shanahan.

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After being written off for most of the season, Jarome Iginla’s 30 goals/10 seasons milestone sure has redeemed him in the eyes of the hockey world.

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Former Calgary Flame and current Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach, Tim Hunter is still an ugly, ugly man.

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The slow shootout approach seems stopped more often than not. Get up some speed, move around; do something less easily read by a goalie.

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I respect no-BS guys like Brian Burke & John Tortorella, but I think it’d suck to work/play for them. I’m sure Sean Avery hates every minute of playing for Torts, but at the same time, knows he’s exactly the coach he needs to get the best out of him. Burke won’t tolerate the media’s crap, and I love it. The NHL, and everyone really, needs guys that cut out the crap.

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Some NHL teams should consider rescuing Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets and offer their entire roster for him. Now THAT’D be a hype-worthy deadline deal. Sure, it’d take a few years to rebuild your roster, but assuming you have a decent farm system (any farm system can’t be that far off pace of CBJ’s actual team), you’d be back up to par in no time, AND have the addition of a franchise player. Nash deserves better. I’m going to start a FREE RICK NASH campaign, I think.

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On the Heritage Classic…..

Might as well have just worn this too.

-Did anyone else think the NHL is fairly stupid for not having the Heritage Classic be either Toronto vs Montreal, or Calgary vs Edmonton? I get the cross-continental viewership theory, but aren’t the afore mentioned rivalries a little more historic and television worthy? Based purely on rivalry/game-entertainment value, who’d you like to see in next year’s version? I’m thinking a Vancouver-Chicago one would be fun.

-Leave it to the USA to declare “Hockey Day in America” on the day Canadian teams play in the Heritage Classic outdoor game in Canada.

-Paul Brandt having a musical note on his Flames jersey in place of a number was ridiculous.

-Why did the Flames wear white pants???? So close to looking totally awesome. Then again, this is a team that throws salmon on the ice at home games, so not sure what I expected….

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And finally, why does ESPN continue to push women’s pool, dogshows, and bowling more than NHL hockey? And why does TSN continue to pick up these feeds? This is exactly why players like Pacioretty get hit into stanchions protecting the league’s media gimmicks. Americans, watch hockey already so players stop getting hurt!

When “For Love of the Game” Meets Money, Responsibility, & The Real World.

March 13, 2011 7 comments

[This ran on Justin Bourne's "Bourne's Blog" on March 10/2011.  Bourne's pretty much killin' it in the blogger/sportswriter world.  You're advised to visit his blog frequently and follow him on Twitter if you don't want to get left behind!]

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The three-quarter point of the NHL season gets a lot more interesting as the playoff push begins; teams like Detroit jockey for seeding, and teams like Toronto try to shut everyone up that has been riding them since the collapse of their season opening 6-game winning streak and early playoff aspirations.  It’s also interesting because college and university teams’ have either had their own playoff hopes dashed by not qualifying or an early exit, and now suddenly have some notable talent available to these pro teams for booking, if they are on their radar. 

On March 8, The Edmonton Oilers picked up Taylor Fedun from Princeton, and The Philadelphia Flyers signed Harry Zolnierczyk from Brown.  On March 11, the Ottawa Senators signed  Mark Borowiecki from Clarkson University, and Derek Grant from Michigan State.  All four are slated to report to the respective teams’ AHL affiliates initially, but what will be interesting to see is if they can handle what they’re in for; when their cushy college hockey life of games on the weekends and no fear of trades and cuts meets the professional game of hockey in the heat of the playoff battle, travelling nearly everyday, and nightly fighting for the right to have their name scribbled on the scoresheet and to be let out the gate to play, ahead of guys who have been there all year prior.  And right after they (assumably/hopefully) finished playing their hearts out for their alma mater. 

When I signed my contract and flew to France to play pro in the fall of 2006, it wasn’t immediately after the school year, but the transition was the same – I was a decent college player jumping it up a notch in level of play, and I naively thought the transition would be seamless.  I wasn’t as easy as I thought it was.

What I eventually stumbled upon understanding was the notion of the “business of sports”, and how that concept differs from the amateur game, and how it applies to the pro-level player.  It essentially means that your primary purpose as a player is no longer to just love the game, play with passion, and to do anything for the team (though those things are still encouraged); it is now for you to simply make that team money, bottom line.  The sideshow-attraction factor is heightened as an imported player arriving from a foreign country (and doubled if you’re from a nation like Canada that is expected to produce only Wayne Gretzky clones); your notoriety, reputation, talent, and ability sell tickets, attract sponsors and advertisers, and essentially keep the machine running and the arena ice cold.  That is, as long as you live up to your billing.  If you can’t, you’re now an expendible product of little value that an owner won’t think twice about cutting ties with (He’s a great guy, but… ).  So dance, monkey, dance.  Or they’ll find another monkey that will.

It’s a lot easier if you’re a player that’s getting a paycheque with 6 zeros after the first number and you’ve been sought after by teams since your tweens , but for the guys like myself who had to prove themselves at every turn and are only getting by at this stage, your rationale for playing the game starts to change.  Suddenly, the sport you loved more than anything else your whole life becomes a job; something you’ve hated all your life and fought tooth and nail never to have to get a real one of.  You see older players with families that are playing to put food on the table and a roof over their heads; often taking deals from richer teams in lower-level leagues because they can afford to pay them more.  Suddenly, the notion of making it to the top in hockey becomes hazy as to what that even means anymore.  Is it better to make it to the highest division, or to make more money?  Do I love this game enough to be away from my family and friends, live in a shoebox apartment, work part time at an unrelated job to make ends meet if I need to, and get screwed out of things that were clearly agreed upon in my contract, or by my agent who’s supposed to be working for me?  How long can I afford to carry on with this kind of lifestyle without earning that elusive million-dollar deal?  When I shipped out, I had just got engaged, and had to make midnight phone-booth calls from my apartment block street corner every night.  That got old pretty quick.

Suddenly the fear of being cut or traded that former college players could afford to forget about for up to 5 years in a row kicks back in, and the realization of what not being in the line-up one night, or even worse, being sent home altogether, will mean to your income and the continuation of your career in the game becomes pretty obvious.  It’s easy to let comparative thoughts of how you’re being pimped, and having your passion exploited to make someone else money creep into your mind; but the less you allow that to happen the better, for the sake of your quality of play (aka your meal-ticket) and your own sanity.  If Taylor or Harry were taking business at Brown or Princeton, I doubt that any of this subject matter was included in their curriculum.   While my pro experience comes from the European version of the game, there’s plenty of similarity in the North American minor-pro leagues that compare, as I’m sure guys who paid their way to camp, and are making a few hundred bucks a week, while sharing an apartment with four guys, for a chance to “get in the system” will attest to.     

Matty B, suited up for Ronnang IK in Sweden.

Some guys like Calgary’s Curtis Glencross make the transition well; after being Justin Bourne’s teammate at UAA in 2003-04 in NCAA D1, he caught on in Anaheim’s system with Cinncinnati  in the AHL for the remainder of that season, hacked it out, played his first NHL games by 2006-07 with Anaheim, and has now blossomed into the 75+ games/40+ points a season player you see in Calgary today.  My college teammate Matt Bothwell, was a phenom in our league (ACAC) and has the most ridiculous hands (stickhandling skills, that is) I’ve ever seen, played a combined 17 games over 3 separate seasons in the ECHL, CHL, and SPHL and scored only 5 points; finally found his way in Sweden, playing 20+ games a year (that’s a full season over there), and scoring 40+ points a season twice.  Some other guys I know who were awesome players weren’t fortunate enough to find that second chance and have sadly been relegated to the dream-busting local beer leagues after brief stints in the minors; which, if you knew them, how talented they are and what quality of people they are, is almost tragic.

Scoring rules.

So what’s the difference between all the aforementioned players and their scenarios, besides a fair amount of skill separation?  I suggest that players like Glencross “get”, or at least figured out, what it means to be a pro, and everything that term encompasses (see: PK Subban’s ongoing lesson).  The guys that make it are obviously talented and have worked hard to get where they are, but they’re also able to block out all the BS and distractions of being a pro, go out on the ice night after night, city after city, perform, and sell the product of themselves and hockey to the audience of fans, advertisers, sponsors, and anyone else that believes being entertained by hockey is worth paying money for.  I don’t think every “good” player is capable of doing these things, though many are.  I’m interested to see what fate is in store for Fedun, Zolnierczyk , and any others that make the college-to-pro jump this season.  At least they have first-rate educations to fall back on if things don’t ultimately pan out.

[btw, here’s the preliminary contract terms for Taylor Fedun with the Oilers: http://bit.ly/gbTwOO ….. shy of $70,000 in the AHL and then $740,000 – $825,000 if he can prove he’s worth “show-dough”. The “is it worth it?” question gets a lot easier to answer yes to when that kind of money is an actual possibility]

Categories: Hockey

Serenity Now Mailbag: On Charlie Sheen and Why Postal Workers Go Crazy.

March 5, 2011 6 comments

Welcome to the latest edition of the SDC Blogs’ mailbag.  Here’s what’s been on people’s minds as of late:

Letter #1:

Dear Dave,

I would suggest charlie sheen needs to be mentioned in the next SDC blogs.

By the time the licorice monacle appeared in the interview, the verdict was already in.

I successfully ignored Charlie Sheen for the better part of my 28 years, mostly because I never found him that interesting or entertaining.  However, with everyone’s latest obsession over him, I actually quite accidentally took in Sheen’s recent 20/20 interview.  It was quite a spectacle.  What I found most interesting was that inbetween the over-bearing insanity, he would stitch in a few really intelligent quotes here and there that were enough to make you think this guy wasn’t completely gone out of his mind.  That in mind, I decided to jot down his quotes from the interview, place them in either a “Crazy”, “Neutral”, or “Intelligent” category, and let the numbers decide his judgment.  Walk with me, as we mull over the results:

Crazy

I am on a drug, it’s called “Charlie Sheen”. It’s not available, because if you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body. Too much?

I woke up and decided that I’ve been kicked around and I’ve been criticized, I’ve been the “aw shucks” guy with this bitchin’ rock star life, and I’m finally just gonna completely embrace it, wrap both arms around it, and love it violently, and defend it violently, through violent hatred.

You’re dealing with a high priest Vatican assassin warlock.

These words come from my grand wizard master.

Stay away from the crack, unless you can manage it socially.

Hey kids, your dad’s a rock star. Look at his experiences. Look at what he survived. There are your lessons.

When you have a highly evolved brain, and you’re trying to roll out your humor… that’s on me.

Last time I took drugs, I probably took more than anyone could survive. I was banging 7 gram rocks and finishing them because that’s how I roll, I have one speed — I have one gear, ‘Go’.

[I survive] because I’m me.  I have a different constitution, a different brain, a different heart — I got tiger blood.

You borrow my brain for 5 seconds and just be like, “dude! can’t handle it! Unplug this bastard!” because it fires in a way that isn’t from this particular, terrestrial realm.

If there are drugs in this house, you better find them, and give them to me, immediately.

[in reference to his past drug use and resulting actions] I’m proud of what I created, it was radical.

Yes, I drink water through my eyes.

I’m a peaceful man, with bad intentions.

What makes you a good dad?  Everything.  Next question.

What’s not to love? Especially if you saw how I party, it was epic. The run I was on made Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards, all of them, all look like droopy eyed, armless children.

Reporter: “Do you two sit down with your daughters and talk about what’s happening?” Sheen:  “ No, that’s kinda lame. They’ll wake up one day and realize how cool dad is, and that signs the cheques on the front, not the back, and that we need him, and his wisdom and his bitchin-ness.” 

Total Score: 18

Neutral

Dying’s for fools.

We win, so radically in our underwear before our first cup of coffee, it’s scary. People say it’s lonely at the top, but I sure like the view.

I’m not interested in what other people believe, I’m interested in what I believe.

As long as you’re not lying to anybody, and there’s no children involved, then it’s ok. People are going to judge it because they’re so jealous.

I expose people to magic.  I expose people to something they’re never otherwise going to see in their boring normal lives.

I’m Bi-winning.

We just win.

They’re the best at what they do, and I’m the best at what I do, and together it’s on.

Total Score: 8

Intelligent

It’s fun, and it’s entertaining, and it sounds different than all the other garbage people are spewing.

Because I’m honest. And I think the honesty shines through in my work and also my personal life. Part of that code is apologizing when you’re wrong.

When you’re people pleasing, your soul is dead.

I don’t care if it’s my dad, or the guy down the street, or someone that fell out of the sky, back off with your judgment.

And then what’s the cure? Medicine? To make me like them? Not going to happen.

Total Score: 5

 

 

I’m sorry Charlie, but the numbers don’t lie.  You’re bonkers, man.

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Letter #2:

Dear Dave,

Why are all post office workers always so sad?

I’m going to let everyone’s favorite United States Postal Worker, Seinfeld’s Newman, field this one, as he can answer it better than anyone:

I think that about wraps it up.

 

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